The Humpback Whale

This passage is about one of the largest living creatures on Earth.

Lexile Level: 1040L

Categories: Animals & Nature


Humpback whales are one of the largest living creatures on Earth, weighing as much as forty-five tons. For years they were hunted close to extinction; their numbers were whittled down to a few thousand worldwide. But they have since rebounded thanks to a ban on humpback whale hunting that went into effect in the 1960s. Today the North Pacific population alone is estimated to be more than 10,000 and possibly as high as 25,000. These titans of the deep can often be spotted breaching off the coast of Hawaii. Over the course of their lives, they spend about ninety percent of their time underwater. Down in the depths, male humpbacks call out their songs, which can travel for miles. The females, meanwhile, nurse their new calves, which can double their length in a year's time. Scientists have discovered that many of the humpback whales are simply drifting along with the ocean's current, seemingly doing nothing at all. They stay submerged for up to thirty minutes, possibly conserving energy for some yet-to-be-discovered task.


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